The tech world is well-known for being a maze of acronyms. You may have heard of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS — but here is one you might not be as familiar with: desktop as a service or DaaS. This is a new way of providing workspaces that is becoming increasingly popular with businesses that prioritize security and flexibility, with Verified Market Research citing a CAGR of 18.7% between 2019 and 2026.

What Is DaaS? How Does It Work?

DaaS stands for desktop as a service. It refers to a form of virtual computing that provides remote or mobile workers with cloud workspaces. Using DaaS, workers can connect to a virtual workspace that runs in the cloud using whatever device they have. They can work using a laptop, PC or tablet. A recent report by the Citrix Service Provider Center of Excellence revealed that the DaaS market has “matured and evolved” in recent years.

Why Use DaaS?

The main benefits of desktop as a service are:

  • Flexibility
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Security

With DaaS, companies can offer a workspace to new employees without having to worry about provisioning hardware or worrying about individual configurations.

Louis Columbus writes of the benefits of VDI/DaaS in a VenturePoint piece about up-and-coming technologies for Endpoint Security. He notes “Secure virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) connections have become a priority over the last two years, given the rapid growth of virtual meetings, remote training sessions, and sales calls. VDI/DaaS helps prevent virtual sessions from being hijacked while securing the identity of every virtual participant with no degradation in bandwidth.”

Using DaaS means businesses can implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and allow employees to work from anywhere. All applications and data are stored in the cloud or on a server in the company's own infrastructure. No business data ends up on personal machines.

Avoid Viruses and Ransomware

Windows laptops and PCs are often a target for viruses and hacking attacks. Sophos reports that the cost of remediation after a ransomware attack reached $1.85 million in 2021.

DaaS implementations can reduce the risk of such attacks by creating sandboxed Windows environments. Each employee can access a secure working environment and the software they need for their work. The virtual machine is reset when they log out. This restricted access cuts off many common attack vectors that are open on traditional desktops.

DaaS vs VDI: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, but in the Cloud

In some ways, DaaS may sound a lot like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Those comparisons are fair ones. However, there's one key difference between DaaS and VDI.With VDI, businesses use on-premise servers that are maintained by in-house teams. This means the IT team is responsible for the deployment, maintenance and management of those systems. They're also responsible for security monitoring and upgrades. For many companies, the expense of managing that infrastructure in-house is prohibitive.DaaS uses cloud-based virtual desktops. This means businesses can use a third-party hosting provider that handles the hardware, networking and software for them. To the end-user, the result is the same. They can log in to their virtual desktop and use it from any reasonably modern internet-connected device. This can be a big cost savings for organizations.

DaaS Is More Efficient Than Legacy VDI Solutions

“Virtual desktop infrastructure is provided through on-site technology solutions and requires a hardware stack maintained by IT administrators. Legacy VDI solutions are complex tools. Not only do they require a complex stack, they also require purchasing servers and storage and obtaining a data center,” said Brad Peterson, VP of Marketing at Cupertino, CA-based Workspot.

“They’re expensive to implement,” he added. Peterson notes that a virtual desktop server could cost anything up to $200,000 to set up. This figure takes into account the cost of purchasing and implementing all of the needed infrastructure.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of DaaS?

One of the most significant advantages of incorporating a DaaS model is cost-saving. With legacy IT, businesses must purchase a perpetual license for every desktop and every laptop in use by the company.

For many companies, a subscription works out to be much more affordable than perpetual licenses. DaaS also saves companies money on security, technical support, and maintenance. Any sensitive data is stored in the cloud. If an employee's device is stolen, all the IT team has to do is change the password to that user's cloud service.

Learning Opportunities

DaaS Provides Flexibility and Scalability

Trave Harmon, CEO at Worcester-based Triton Computer Corporation, added that a DaaS system can be “easily and quickly” provisioned to meet your requirements. Onboarding new employees is simply a matter of creating an account for them on the DaaS platform.

Temporary workers can be assigned logins and have those credentials revoked when they leave the company. It's easy to add and remove accounts based on business needs. Many providers offer flexible pricing. This means you can increase the number of seats you pay for during busy periods then scale back those accounts later.

Cloud Computing Integrates With Legacy Systems

Harmon also commented on how the DaaS model can easily integrate with legacy IT systems, including VPN technology. Plus, you don’t have to worry about hardware failure, simply because the system is cloud-based.

For an organization that has a mixture of office-based and remote workers, managed cloud services and remote desktops can be a powerful resource. They enable remote workers to log in to a secure environment where they have access to all of their productivity apps and information. They can do this using a VPN for extra encryption. There's no need to spend a lot of money on expensive hardware to access their systems.

Choose Your Hosted Cloud Service Provider Carefully

Investing in a DaaS solution can be cost-effective for many companies, but the wrong solution can lead to higher-than-expected costs, as highlighted in this research by Enterprise Strategy Group. For this reason, it's important to choose a DaaS provider that offers transparent pricing that makes sense for your use case.

One of the key issues highlighted by ESG is that VDI and DaaS deployments require staff to maintain them. The report found that 44% of deployments required ongoing third-party managed services for maintenance. These costs should be factored into any installation plans.

Another thing to consider is the reliability of the internet connections your workforce has. Researchers Magana, Sesma, Morato and Izal note in their paper Remote Access Protocols for Desktop as a Service Solutions (2019), “VDC usability imposes more severe requirements on the minimum network speed and maximum latency for the company Internet access links and the path from the local network to the closest DaaS cloud.” High latency, in particular, can lead to a frustrating user experience.

For employees who are simply running standard Windows applications, high-speed internet connectivity is less of a pressing requirement. It's still wise to have a backup plan to allow employees to work offline.